Benjamin N. Cardozo High School
Oakland Gardens NY 11364
Zone for the 2017-2018 school year. Call school to confirm.
Large school with top-notch science research program
Like most large schools, not much hand-holding in college office
Benjamin N. Cardozo is a large, successful high school open to students who live in its attendance zoned as well as others in Queens who can apply to several themed programs. Home to the highly competitive Da Vinci Math/Science Institute and popular programs in law, journalism and dance, Cardozo offers classes for students of all skill levels including many advanced and college-level courses. Students who do best here find their niche among the wide selection of clubs, activities and athletic teams.
Once a massively overcrowded school with enrollment that exceeded 4,000, Cardozo now serves a more manageable student body of 3,400. I call us a big, small school, said Sheila Clark, the assistant principal of guidance. A single session of nine periods is enough to accommodate all classes for the day. Guidance counselors meet with students to help them select classes for the following year, according to Clark.
One downside is the reduced budget that accompanied the schools drop in enrollment. Though theres still a nice variety of classes and extra curricular activities, several staff members said the school had to scale back on some offerings such as fewer foreign languages (now three options, down from eight) and fewer Advanced Placement (AP) courses, though there are still roughly 15 options. There are art classes, but Cardozo no longer has a fine arts program. (Framed paintings by former fine arts students still hang in the hallways.)
On the day of our visit, the tone throughout building was very calm. Class sizes remain large, averaging over 30 students, but overall Cardozo doesnt have the crowded, hectic feel of many large schools. It was easy to hear the soft music playing over the public address system during change of classes because the hallways never got too crowded or noisy. You could hear a pin drop in the library even though it was filled with students.
Instruction reflects a mix of teaching styles. Some classes we visited were traditional, with students sitting in rows. In others, group work and discussions drove the lessons.
In a 12th grade economics class, the teachers enthusiasm for the lesson kept students engaged throughout a discussion on topics ranging from 401ks and credit card debt to fixed annuities and variable rate mortgages. In the physics lab, students, with ropes in hand, spread out across the room and in the hallway to conduct experiments on wavelength and frequency. Students in AP English were eager to offer their thoughts on a passage from Othello.
Many classes, especially honors, go well beyond the Regents curriculum. Da Vinci students take a challenging load of research, honors and AP classes, but qualifying students from any program can take honors, AP and College Now classes. In addition to their regular English class, all freshmen take a reading/writing seminar; sophomores take a class devoted to writing. Each department offers specialized and elective classes, though some are reserved for students in a particular program such as Constitutional law and Criminal Justice, which are open to law program students only.
Beyond core academics theres plenty to keep students engaged. Art and music classes as well as bands, an orchestra and choir keep musically inclined students busy. There are academic teams such as debate, moot court, mock trial, model UN, science Olympiad, robotics and math as well as more than 30 PSAL sports teams and an impressive range of clubs.
The sprawling building is located in a quiet, residential neighborhood and is surrounded by extensive outdoor facilitiessports fields, handball courts and a full-size trackmore commonly found at suburban high schools.
Like most large schools, there isnt a lot of hand-holding in the college office, but counselors do their best despite huge caseloads. Guidance counselors visit English classes to guide 11th graders through the college admissions process. Each fall, parent volunteers pitch in to help process college applications. Graduates go on to CUNY and SUNY schools as well as highly selective private colleges and universities.
Special education: In addition to SETSS, there are self-contained and ICT classes in many subjects.
Admissions: Open only to Queens students and residents. Guaranteed admission to students in the schools zone who apply to the Zoned program. The Da Vinci Math/Science Institute screens for strong grades, standardized test scores and attendance. Admission to Performing Dance is based on an audition and review of grades, test scores and attendance. The Mentor Law and Humanities program admits students based on the educational option formula, which is designed to admit a mix of low-, average- and high-achieving students. Journalism and Media Studies does not consider grades or test scores but gives priority to zoned students who attend an open house, followed by Queens students who do the same. (Laura Zingmond, April 2015)
About the students
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Programs and Admissions
Program dedicated to fostering interest in the legal field. Open to wide range of academic performance levels. Students will engage in a sequence of history courses in topics including civil, criminal, and constitutional law. They will also participate in activities such as mock trial and law internships.
The DaVinci Program offers four years of Honors level and AP Math and Science courses along with research opportunities and competitions.
Students study ballet, modern, and jazz techniques along with choreography. Students also have the opportunity to explore additional forms of dance by attending live performances and participating in school productions.
French, German, Spanish
Advanced Placement (AP) courses
AP Biology, AP Calculus, AP Chemistry, AP Economics, AP English, AP Environmental Science, AP Physics, AP Psychology, AP Spanish, AP Statistics, AP US Government and Politics, AP US History, AP World History
Boys PSAL teams
Baseball, Basketball, Bowling, Cross Country, Fencing, Football, Handball, Indoor Track, Lacrosse, Outdoor Track, Soccer, Table Tennis, Tennis, Volleyball, Wrestling
Girls PSAL teams
Basketball, Cross Country, Fencing, Golf, Gymnastics, Handball, Indoor Track, Lacrosse, Outdoor Track, Soccer, Softball, Swimming, Table Tennis, Tennis, Volleyball, Wrestling
Coed PSAL teams